The main point of the rally was about restoring some sanity to the political landscape in America. "Take it down a notch" was one of the catch-phrases. This was premised on the whole aspect of angry rhetoric being espoused by the left and the right. "I don't agree with you, but I'm pretty sure you aren't Hitler" was my favourite slogan. Many of the signs and banners that were displayed at the rally poked fun at the depths to which politics have sunk.
Why did the Rally to Restore Sanity capture my imagination so much? In 2008, we witnessed the US elections and in 2010, the UK elections. It always saddens me to watch the candidate debates knowing that we are a very very long way from such issue-based campaigning in this country. The United Kingdom still very much operates under the British reserve and stiff upper lip, so the negative campaign adverts of America would not work as well there. However, in America, there is at least room for candidates to debate their manifestos with each other for the viewing public. The different parties actually have manifestos and we all know what they stand for.
This is not the case in Zambia. How many members of political parties can give you a succinct summary of what their party stands for and tell you how it differs from other parties? Even the new younger politicians who claimed to represent a new way of doing things, also join the old guard in the politics of insults.
As we approach the 2011 elections, oh what a pleasant surprise it would be to witness an issue-based campaign that does not require cases of chibuku and bales of sugar. How delightful to see candidates taking time to engage with the electorate to help them understand their plans and policies? Wouldn't it be lovely indeed?